‘Sexting’: When a fad is a felony

Should teenagers be arrested and charged with a crime for sexting?  

Marisa Miller, 15, may not look like your typical child pornographer, said Erin Nissley in the Scranton, Pa., Times-Tribune, but appearances can deceive. When a “provocative” photo of bra-clad Miller turned up on a male classmate’s cell phone, Wyoming County District Attorney George Skumanick threatened her and several other students with child-porn charges. To avoid arrest as a sex offender and possible time in jail, Skumanick said, Miller would have to complete a five-week class on the dangers of pornography and sexual violence. Miller thus became the latest high-schooler to find herself facing criminal charges for “sexting”—a fad in which teens take nude or semi-nude photos on cell phone cameras and send them to friends. But unlike the defendants in previous “sexting” cases, said Sean Hamill in The New York Times, Miller is fighting back. With the backing of their parents and the American Civil Liberties Union, Miller and two co-defendants sued Skumanick, claiming he filed the draconian charges in “retaliation” for their refusal to bend to his legal blackmail.

Sorry, but I’m siding with the prosecutor, said Brent Bozell in Townhall.com. He doesn’t want to put Miller in jail; he’s trying to teach her, and her classmates, an important lesson about “a toxic trend.” A recent survey found that one in five teens has sent or posted a nude photo of himself or herself, and nearly a third said they’d received one. These photos often are widely distributed, causing shame and damaged reputations. Last year, an Ohio girl was horrified when a nude photo she’d sent to a boyfriend was distributed to four high schools, and students began calling her “whore.” After weeks of this abuse, she hanged herself. “Sexting” is out of control, and “parents and prosecutors alike are correct to put the brakes on this mistake.”

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